Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping at Elwood Main Street Wesleyan with Pastor Tim and Jennifer Becker on Sunday morning, February 18. Main Street is a vibrant, multi-generational church with exceptional music teams and a big heart for teens and children. The Sunday evening youth group runs 20 or more and Main Street also offers a Monday evening AWANA program. I enjoyed preaching to the receptive congregation and meeting with the LBA after the service.
After lunch with the Becker family, I drove on to Elkhart for a follow-up meeting with the leaders of Iglesia Cielos Abiertos (Spanish for “Open Heaven Church”). Pastor Eliogy Guerrero is leading this team and it was a joy to connect with members of the launch team that is meeting in his home. Pastor Guerrero has extensive experience in leading church planting teams in Venezuela and has a great vision for church planting in northern Indiana. This may be an answer to the prayer that the Warsaw Zone has been praying about church planting possibilities among the growing Hispanic population in Warsaw and Goshen.
Congratulations to Fountain City Wesleyan Church as they have called Rev. Steve Bray to be the next Senior Pastor, following the incredibly effective ministry of Dr. David Anderson who will now step into a newly-created role as Assistant Pastor. It was great to speak with Pastor Steve as he let me know he was accepting the call and passionate about the future of Fountain City Wesleyan Church. Let’s lift Pastor Steve and Susan in our prayers as they step into this new leadership role!
Last week’s ministry schedule included pastoral calls reviews with the boards at Tipton Trinity (Monday), Marion Chapel Pike (Tuesday), and Hartford City (Thursday). Each of the pastoral calls was extended and I was reminded again of the significant value that our board members add in their key governance roles.
Last week also included coaching conversations with Pastor Marvin Lamb (Miami Wesleyan), Pastor Tom Bradley (Huntington Etna Avenue), Pastor Shane Wilson (Columbia City New Hope), Dr. Oliver Dongell (Plymouth), and Pastor Dale Munsell (Albion Cornerstone). Pastor Lamb will be retiring in June after a combined 30 years of pastoring Miami Wesleyan. Rev. Bradley is completing 10 years of ministry in Huntington with 77 new believers baptized during his tenure.
I enjoyed time off on Friday which allowed me to have a lunch date with our daughter, a senior at IWU, and a supper date with Sherry which was followed by a delightful evening in Tipton watching Johnnie & Amanda Blair (pastors at Tipton Trinity Wesleyan) debut in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat” with the Tipton Community Theatre. Not only did they perform well but they’re also reaching into another sector of their community. They still have three more performances this coming weekend if you’d like to cheer them on.
Rev. Paul James (lead consultant), Rev. David Dignal and Rev. Chris Williams were in New Castle providing a Maximizing Impact consultation for Pastor Steve Arnett and the Mt Zion Wesleyan Church. I was able to drop in on the leadership training portion of the consultation on Saturday and it was good to see the positive response of Mt. Zion’s leadership team. We are now booking consultation teams for next fall, so let us know if your congregation is ready to take advantage of this helpful district resource.
This week includes a roundtable with apostolic multipliers from the Heartland Region meeting at Cypress Wesleyan in Columbus, Ohio on Monday; Our District is also hosting a Church Planter Assessment Center (CPAC) this week (Monday-Wednesday) led by Rev. Tom and Sarah Cochran. On Thursday, Sherry and I will be hosting the new Discipleship Cohort at Thornapple Lodge and then, on Friday night, we’ll be welcoming the lead pastors and their spouses for the Region 1 South Zone 1 for supper and fellowship.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars and remind your leadership team members to join us on April 21st as we gather in Marion for ReEquip. For details and registration visit our website: http://www.reequipconference.org/
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
Sherry and I had the privilege of making our way to Fort Wayne this morning to join Pastor Kyle & Nadine Horton and their team at Three Rivers Wesleyan Church. The roads were a bit icy but it was worth it to worship with them and then to spend time over lunch meeting with their Local Board of Administration. Pastor Kyle is completing his initial four-year call and the LBA unanimously affirmed his leadership and recommended another four-year call.
This Sunday was a day of celebration across our district. Dr. David Anderson and the Fountain City Wesleyan Church celebrated being debt free 17 years ahead of schedule and burned their $4 million mortgage with Dr. Craig Dunn representing WIF, their funding partner. This is a tremendous accomplishment that speaks so well to Pastor David’s leadership and the generosity of the Fountain City congregation in response to God’s provision as they reach out to impact the world for Christ!
Noblesville Waterline Church celebrated their 7th anniversary on Sunday and announced their vision to help plant 5 more congregations in the next 2 years. Congratulations to Pastor John and Danielle Freed and their team for this important milestone and for their exciting vision for a future filled with multiplication.
Last week, I was at Southern Wesleyan University on Monday through Wednesday, preaching in chapel and guest lecturing in class with Professor Mark Wilson (who will be with us on April 21 for ReEquip). It is always encouraging to connect with Pastor Mark!
Dr. Todd Voss is doing a great job as President at SWU, my alma mater, and I enjoyed interacting with a wonderful group of students who wanted to learn more about church planting in the Crossroads District. It is also exciting to see the progress as Dr. Mike Tapper has stepped in to lead their Christian Ministries Department.
I was back on the road in Indiana on Thursday for a meeting at HQ with Dr. Wayne Schmidt, General Superintendent, and lunch in Fishers with Rev. Wayne Richards (Habitat for Missions). I closed out the day in Crawfordsville with Rev. Keith Jones and the fine folks at Sonlight Wesleyan Church.
Friday included a meeting with a prospective supply pastor and then touring Huntington with a couple who are praying about the possibility of following Pastor Tom Bradley at Etna Avenue Wesleyan Church.
Sherry and I are always grateful for the opportunity to host our lead pastors and their spouses for zone fellowships at Thornapple Lodge. This past Friday evening we were joined by Pastor Mark Atkinson’s team (Region 1 South Zone 2) for a delightful evening of laughter, singing, and prayer. We have an incredible team of pastors here in the Crossroads District!
On Saturday, I attended the memorial service for Rev. Howard Barefoot at the Lebanon Wesleyan Church. Rev. Ernest Batman brought a heartfelt sermon and members of the family contributed memories and readings. Pastor Barefoot leaves an incredible legacy of faith in his family and from his ministry. Please continue to remember Mrs. Dorothy Barefoot in your prayers.
Saturday afternoon, I was at Southview Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis to meet with Pastor Rick Matthews for our annual coaching conversation and then to meet with the Local Board of Administration as they unanimously affirmed his extended call.
Pastor Matthew Trexler and The River Church joined with dozens of churches across America and the Tim Tebow Foundation this week to provide “Night To Shine,” a wonderful evening for special needs adults. The IWU women’s basketball team and IWU Chaplain Dr. John Bray got in on the excitement this year.
I love receiving baptism reports from across our district team! Last weekend, Pastor Jim Weinmann and the Evanston Avenue Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis celebrated two baptisms after the service had already concluded!
Pastor Ben Thomas and the Nehemiah Church in Avon celebrated the baptisms of two young men this weekend. There is nothing more exciting than celebrating with Heaven as people find new life in Christ!
Don’t miss these coming events! The Crossroads District Youth All-Nighter will be held in Fort Wayne on February 23. The leaders of our student ministries do a great job of pulling together this event which welcomed more than 500 students last year!
Mark your calendars and bring your team to ReEquip 2018 in Marion on Saturday, April 21. There are multiple events happening from 9-3 so bring your staff and volunteer leaders to this affordable learning experience: http://www.reequipconference.org/
We have an amazing privilege of serving together in the only cause that counts for eternity! Let’s keep reaching for one more!
Your servant in Christ,
Crossroads District Superintendent
Sunday morning, Sherry and I worshiped with Pastor Eric Roemer and the team at Greentown Wesleyan Church. After the challenging message from Pastor Eric, I met briefly with the LBA and then we hosted Eric and Amanda and their precious girls for lunch. Amanda is a great partner with Eric in their ministry and also takes time to serve as a lay member of our District Board of Administration.
Greentown was one of the first churches in our district to welcome the Maximizing Impact team consultation. It was encouraging to be back on site and to see the continued progress they are making in reaching their community for Christ. Pastor Eric is great help on district events and is also serving as chair for the Greentown Ministerial Association this year.
Last week’s schedule included coaching conversations with the following pastors: Matthew Trexeler (The River), Paul Van Cise (Bryant), Randy Yaryan (Winchester), Steve DeNeff (College), Eric Roemer (Greentown), Don Bayne (New Carlisle), Marc Ulrich (Merrillville-ReThink), Tom Cochran (Chesterton), and Rick Patterson (Colfax).
In this week’s coaching conversations, I’ve heard praise reports of miraculous healing, stories of life change, and one church that has seen a 40% increase in tithing since last year. God is on the move in Indiana!
I also met with three of our pastors through the week to work on property matters in Muncie, Crawfordsville, and Indianapolis. Retired Chaplain Gordon Ritchie was in town for a few days and it was good to connect and hear more about the doors that God is opening for his continued ministry after 24 years of active military duty.
Another highlight this week was dropping in on FUEL, the denomination’s training for the leaders of next generation ministries (children and youth). More than 300 leaders gathered from across the US and Canada for this event that one young leader described as “life-changing!” Congratulations to Zach Coffin and his team from HQ for an excellent training experience! Lane Sander, our Crossroads District Youth Leader, did a fine job of hosting our participants for supper on Friday. Just a reminder to mark your calendars for the Crossroads ReEquip training event in Marion on April 21 which will feature Matthew Deprez, one of the keynote speakers from FUEL.
Many of you have been praying for and supporting the launch of ReThink Church in Merrillville. We’re grateful for Pastor Marc and Heather Ulrich who are leading the team in planting this new congregation in our northwest corner. ReThink celebrated their one-year anniversary last month with 70 people in attendance. Since moving their worship experience to Sunday morning, in January, they’ve welcomed 35 first-time guests. Keep on praying!
On Friday, we received word that Rev. Howard Barefoot, beloved pastor, husband, father and friend, had passed away. He and Dorothy had been wintering in Brooksville, Florida. Rev. Barefoot was know for his warmth, his optimism, his love for God and his gracious way with people. Our prayers are with Mrs. Dorothy Barefoot, the family and the many friends who will miss him. I am grateful for his prayers and encouragement to me. Funeral arrangements will be shared as soon as we receive the details.
Saturday afternoon, I had the joy of connecting with three prospective church planters from Venezuela. It was exciting to pray with them and to consider the possibilities of planting many Hispanic churches across northern Indiana, beginning in Elkart and Goshen. The Warsaw zone, led by Pastor Jarod Osborne, has made this a matter of focused prayer and has prioritized Hispanic church planting as one of the key needs in their region. Pray that God will continue to send out workers into His harvest!
This week, I’ll be speaking in chapel at Southern Wesleyan University and connecting with prospective residents and church planters for our district, returning on Wednesday. Your prayers are always appreciated.
This Friday evening, February 9, Sherry and I are looking forward to hosting Rev. Mark Atkinson and the lead pastors and their spouses for the Marion Zone 2 fellowship at Thornapple Lodge. Cindy Horn has graciously assisted in sending out reminders. The doors open after 6 pm and supper is served at 6:30. We value these times of fellowship and encouragement that are building a stronger, more connected Crossroads team!
May God continue to bless as you pursue the Great Commission in the Spirit of the Great Commandment!
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday morning, January 28, Sherry and I were privileged to join Pastor Matthew and Jennifer Stewart for worship at Sweetser Wesleyan Church. Sweetser is one of the churches participating in our Maximizing Impact initiative and it was encouraging to hear the progress reports as they’ve moved forward on their recommendations.
Following Pastor Stewart’s message on the Marks of a Christian (1 John 2), I met briefly with the LBA and then joined the congregation for a pitch-in dinner. After the dinner, Rev. Stewart invited me to share the “3×5” evangelism tool as the congregation steps up their outreach to the community. Congratulations also to Pastor Steward on recently completing course requirements for the Master of Divinity degree at Wesley Seminary!
Sunday evening, I had the joy of participating with Rev. Tony Bye, lead pastor at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church, and Rev. Michael Hewitt, church planter for Rising Hope Church in Muncie, in a conversation about evangelism in the local church. Brookhaven does a great job of their annual church membership reaffirmation process and part of that is a series of vision-casting and mission/values conversations. Pastor Bye shared that they’ve had 16 new members join since last year. They’re also in the middle of an exciting remodeling project to better serve children.
Speaking of remodeling projects, Frankfort First Wesleyan Church, another of our Maximizing Impact congregations, tackled their platform renovation this month. Here are the before and after pictures:
That’s a dramatic improvement! But, far more important are the stories of changed lives and new members that are becoming part of their fellowship. Congratulations to Pastor Alan Downing and the Frankfort First team.
Change is never easy, especially in ministries that we dearly value. Many of you will have received word of the transitional season for our Hephzibah Children’s Ministry. It was encouraging for me to hear from Dr. Dan Berry, Hephzibah’s Board chair, this week about the exciting possibilities as Hephzibah moves away from being a “state-controlled institution” to becoming more of a local church partnership for foster parenting and adoption initiatives.
While this is a marked shift away from a geographically-based ministry, this step has huge potential for impacting 10x more orphaned and vulnerable children across the nation, rather than being limited to the state of Georgia. Pray for our leaders in this challenging transition and believe with them for brighter days of greater impact ahead.
Last week was a change of pace as Sherry and I were in Buffalo, NY to partner with D.S. Dr. Joey and MaryBeth Jennings at the Western New York District Pastors & Spouses Retreat. Thank you to each one who made this event a matter of focused prayer. We felt that prayer support and are grateful for the way that God allowed us to serve.
We then flew from Buffalo to Orlando on Tuesday evening to participate in the GS-DS Institute (Wednesday-Friday). This annual event was held at the Caribe Royal Resort which will be the host site for the 2019 Gathering (January 9-11). It is always encouraging to connect with colleagues from across our denomination and to hear the many exciting ways in which God is at work. Disciples are making disciples and congregations are multiplying. Dr. Wayne Schmidt is bringing intentional, focused leadership to our team and challenging us to deeper levels of collaboration to unleash the apostolic multipliers in our movement.
Make plans now to bring your leadership team to ReEquip, April 21, 9 am to 3 pm, in Marion. This is a “make tracks, not excuses” event. The location is convenient, the price is right, and the value is high. Pastors, bring your lay leaders. Lay leaders, bring your team. Rev. Mark Wilson (author of “Purple Fish” and “Filled Up, Poured Out”) will be our keynote speaker. Next generation ministry leaders (children and youth workers) are looking forward to hearing from Matthew DePrez (author of “Join Generations: Becoming Unashamedly Intergenerational”). All the details for both tracks are conveniently located here: http://www.reequipconference.org/
I’m looking forward to a great week with multiple coaching conversations and a chance to drop in on the FUEL conference at HQ.
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity!
Your servant in Christ,
The highlight of this past week was our District Prayer Gathering “Barriers and Breakthroughs” led by Dr. Jim Lo and his team at College Wesleyan Church on Friday afternoon. Hazardous driving conditions on the original date pushed us back one week but there was a wonderful sense of God’s presence as we gathered together for intercession.
Many of our pastors and churches had forwarded specific requests that received focused prayer. There was also a focused time of prayer around the altar as intercessors anointed pastors with oil. Several of our church planters were able to be with us and we gathered around them to pray for God’s blessing on these pioneering works.
Thank you to Dr. Lo, his prayer team, and to each one who took time to join us for this gathering. Let’s keep lifting one another up in prayer as we work together in the harvest field!
One of the things I’m enjoying about our newly-created district is the way that long-time leaders are reaching out to welcome and support our newest team members. One example of that was watching Pastor Chuck McCallum connect with Pastor Michael Hewitt. Pastor Chuck was excited to hear more about Rising Hope Church (our new church plant in Muncie) and Pastor Michael was excited to meet a new friend and add another prayer supporter!
Friday evening, Sherry and I welcomed the lead pastors and their spouses from the Fort Wayne Zone to Thornapple Lodge for a delightful time of fellowship, food, and prayer. Thank you to Rev. Rick Fletcher for his leadership to this zone. We’d also had a great time with this team a few weeks back for their Christmas fellowship. Even though we are all busy, it’s worth it to take time to encourage one another.
Last Monday evening, I met with Pastor Josh Keesling and the LBA at Greenfield Browns Chapel. We’re glad to have Pastor Josh and Alicia back serving in Indiana!
On Tuesday, I met with Pastor Zach Szmara (Logansport The Bridge), Pastor Marc Watkins (Kokomo Trinity Wesleyan), and Pastor Joe Park (Lafayette Evergreen) for our annual coaching conversations.
For Wednesday’s coaching conversations, I was in Hamilton to meet with Pastor Dave Leitzel, then on to South Bend to meet with Pastor Greg Holmes (Sonlight Fellowship), and finished up the day with Pastor Tom Beck (Larwill Wesleyan).
Thursday, I met with Pastor Tom Parson (Hartford City Wesleyan) and then Pastor Matthew Stewart (Sweetser Wesleyan) for our coaching conversations.
I value these conversations that provide greater insight into the opportunities and challenges of the unique contexts in which our pastors faithfully preach the Gospel and shepherd the flock. I am more convinced than ever that it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people and more grateful than ever for our pastors who lead diligently.
Last week also included a meeting on Thursday with our 2018 District Conference planning team. Ordination service, which is attended by all our ordained ministers, will be held again at College Wesleyan Church in Marion on Friday evening, June 22. Please note that our ordained ministers will gather on Friday evening at 6:30 for our group photo with the ordination candidates.
The 2018 District Conference will be held in the same location on Saturday, June 23, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. With the many conversations taking place across our denomination about regions and district mergers, you won’t want to miss this meeting.
One more reminder to plan on bringing your team to ReEquip 2018! Registration is coming soon. Here’s the link with the latest information: http://www.reequipconference.org/
I would welcome your prayers this week for two important meetings. Sherry and I have been invited by Dr. Joseph Jennings, DS, to speak to the pastors and spouses of the Western New York District. We flew out to Buffalo on Saturday evening and the event runs from Sunday afternoon through Tuesday noon. Then, we fly to Orlando on Tuesday evening for the DS Institute led by our General Superintendent (Wednesday-Friday).
I always need and value your prayers but I am sensing an extra burden for these two important meetings. I am counting on your prayers and I’m grateful for our partnership.
Your servant in Christ,
Sunday, January 14, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Greg and Cheryl Holmes at Sonlight Fellowship Wesleyan Church in South Bend. After the service, I met with the board and then hosted the Holmes family (including five of their eight children) for fellowship over lunch.
It was encouraging to see the young families that are now part of the church but the congregation lost several dear members this past year. Pastor Greg is another of our bi-vocational pastors who serves faithfully in a ministry with big opportunities and limited resources. Churches like Sonlight are the reason our ReEquip Conference this year (April 21 in Marion) is specifically targeted to pastors and lay leaders in smaller churches.
On Sunday evening, I was at Anderson Central Wesleyan Church to meet with Pastor Jerry Alexander and the LAC as they considered a new project to better serve families in their community. Our Maximizing Impact team is looking forward to working with them on April 6-8.
The biggest disappointment of last week was the weather delay for our prayer gathering. Given the hazardous driving conditions, the team made a wise decision to reschedule the event to this Friday, January 19, same time (1-3 p.m.) and same location, College Wesleyan Church in Marion. We look forward to sharing with you in this concert of prayer led by Dr. Jim Lo and his team of intercessors.
Last Monday, Pastor Mike Colaw (Assistant DS for Region 2) and I were invited to participate in Elevate, a leadership development initiative hosted by the Greater Ohio District and Cypress Wesleyan Church.
Elevate consists of an all-day leadership/ministry seminar with keynote presentations from Pastor Ken Murphy and then breakout discussions in table groups. These same table groups then follow up with each other over the next 3 months until they come back to Cypress for the next Elevate session. Pastor Colaw has been coaching several pastors one-on-one so it was good for us to explore how this model could be adapted for our Crossroads team.
Tuesday morning, I was in Frankfort as Pastor Alan Downing hosted Rev. Dan Fisher and the Lafayette Zone for their first meeting of the new year. I’m grateful for the way our teams connect to encourage and support one another. Tuesday afternoon, I was in the office at Fishers for a Zoom conversation, and then I closed out the day with Rev. Dr. Rich and Rev. Carol Schenck at Noblesville Lakeview Wesleyan. I first met with them and then with their LBA as part of the very positive extended call review.
Wednesday morning, I was at HQ in Fishers for a meeting of the General Board’s executive committee and then returned to Marion to sign property documents. The highlight of the day was connecting with Pastor Michael and Kim Hewitt at Rising Hope Church in Muncie. It was fun to see their team working together to transform the old Northview building as they prepare to launch this new ministry. Special thanks to Pastor Jeff Luedtke and the team from Fairmount Wesleyan Church who recently pitched in to help our newest church plant with this remodeling. We’re stronger together!
On Thursday, Dr. Rich Schenck and I attended a seminar hosted by the Center for Congregations at Eastern Star Church in Indianapolis. This event featured Jim Tomberlin who presented on the multi-site movement’s progress from a space solution to a revitalization strategy. Pastor Rich has been leading Noblesville Lakeview in reaching out to Bethel and now merging with Beech Grove Wesleyan so this event was timely. You will find a host of resources available at their website including this blog post on multi-site ministry in smaller towns: http://multisitesolutions.com/small-town-jesus-multisiting-in-small-town-america/
My final meeting on Thursday was back at HQ to meet with Mrs. Elaine Johnson, the HR Director, looking at evaluation tools for ministry leaders.
On Friday morning, I was in Anderson to sign closing documents for the sale of our old Frankton property. Then on to Fishers for a meeting with Dr. Schmidt, Dr. Drury, Rev. Ron McClung and Mrs. Janelle Vernon to review the Discipline’s provision for some of the models being explored in the regional pilot projects. The DS Institute later this month in Orlando will have a fuller conversation about these pilot projects.
The weather had settled enough by Friday evening, that I was able to join Dr. David Wright and the team at Indiana Wesleyan University who hosted a special evening featuring the Five Blind Boys from Alabama. This gospel group started touring together in 1944 and still features two of the original members (yes, I’ll let you do the math).
They’ve received 5 Grammy Awards and are nominated again this year for their most recent album. The evening was a wonderful community event in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s leadership in the struggle for equal rights and racial reconciliation. (Our office follows the HQ calendar and is closed on Monday in memory of Dr. King.)
I’m on the road for coaching conversations this week before Friday’s prayer gathering. Then, Sherry and I are looking forward to hosting senior pastors and their spouses from the Fort Wayne Zone for supper and fellowship on Friday night at Thornapple Lodge.
There’s still time to register your youth group for the Crossroads District Youth All-Nighter in Fort Wayne at Pathway Community Church on February 23-24. Here’s the link on Eventbrite: Crossroads Youth All-Nighter
Please mark your calendars for April 21 and bring your team to ReEquip, featuring Mark Wilson, Ron Wickard and Matthew Deprez! Here’s the link: ReEquip Conference
Keep on making a difference in the cause that counts for eternity.
Your servant in Christ,
Sherry and I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastor Steve & Patsy Fletcher at Nelson Street Wesleyan Church in Marion. Pastor Steve has been leading the congregation in building bridges to the neighborhood through an addiction recovery group and their community gardens. After the service and a brief stand-up meeting with the LBA, Sherry and I hosted the Fletchers for lunch. Please remember Pastor Steve in your prayers as he continues to serve while working with significant health challenges.
On Sunday evening, Sherry and I joined with Dr. Rich and Rev. Carol Schenck to welcome Joshe Bose, National Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church in Bangladesh. Joshe is back in Indiana to complete the final intensive in his MDiv program at Wesley Seminary. Dr. Aron Willis, our retired District Superintendent, will be traveling to Bangladesh this spring with Dr. Dennis Jackson to ordain this gifted leader who is effectively serving this rapidly-multiplying national church. From orphanages to sports ministry outreach to planting 10 new churches next year, God is on the move in Bangladesh!
It was great to reconnect with our district staff on Tuesday for our weekly meeting and lunch after the extended Christmas break. I’m grateful for the ministry partnership we enjoy with Rev. Chris Williams, Roxene Lo and Seth Bye. And please know that we are grateful for your prayers as we seek to serve our growing network of congregations.
Tuesday and Wednesday included a number of email exchanges and phone conversations following up matters from the past several days. Then, on Wednesday, Jon Wiest and I met with another prospective church planter for lunch in Marion.
Thursday, I was in Indy for coaching conversations with Dr. Rich and Rev. Carol Schenck (Noblesville Lakeview Wesleyan), and then with Rev. Dan Heylmann (Grant City Wesleyan). I dropped by HQ in Fishers and enjoyed connecting with Kevin Batman, General Treasurer, and Elaine Johnson, HR Director. Thursday evening, I met with one of our former ministers to answer questions about the credential reinstatement process.
Friday morning, I met with Daniel Seitz, Director of Life Center Counseling in Marion. We are looking at ways to partner to better serve our district pastors and congregations. Rev. Dan Walker and I met over lunch. Dan has extensive experience in multi-ethnic ministry and has relocated to Marion from Florida along with Dr. Joanne Solis-Walker, his wife (who is teaching at Wesley Seminary).
On Saturday morning, I enjoyed partnering with Pastor Ben Parker and speaking to the monthly Men’s Ministry breakfast at Back Creek Wesleyan Church near Fairmount. The food was good. The fellowship was even better. Praying as these guys lead in their families, their congregations, and their community.
Thank you to the many ministers of the Crossroads District who joined together to honor the memory and support the family of Rev. Dr. Wingrove Taylor, founding General Superintendent of the Caribbean General Conference. This historic home-going celebration was hosted by Pastor Mike Colaw and the team at Trinity Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis where Dr. Taylor had worshiped in recent years. Dr. JoAnne Lyon officiated and brought the message from Psalm 1. One of the many highlights of the service was the extended Taylor family coming together as a choir to sing “Total Praise.”
This is the time of year when many of our local churches plan to welcome people into their annual membership covenant renewal. Rev. Kyle Horton and his team at Three Rivers Church in Fort Wayne do this on the first Sunday of the new year as Pastor Kyle casts vision and they share together in communion. Here’s the Facebook reminder they shared with their congregation:
Just a reminder that this annual membership affirmation needs to be completed by all Wesleyan churches before the end of the 2018 conference year, April 30. Only those individuals who have newly joined or reaffirmed their membership are to be listed for voting purposes and reported in your annual statistical report. The Wesleyan Church has provided a number of helpful resources for this process at the following website:
Join us this Friday, January 12, from 1 – 3 p.m., as Dr. Jim Lo and our Crossroads District intercession team welcome us to College Wesleyan Church for a Crossroads District prayer gathering called: Barriers and Breakthroughs.
We need fresh anointing for our ministries in 2018 as together we reach out to the 3 million religiously-unaffiliated people here in Indiana. May God empower us anew for effective disciple-making in this corner of God’s harvest field!
Your servant in Christ,
The verse for January 1, 2018 on Bible.com was “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:9)
That’s a great verse to begin this new year and it was the same verse that Pastor Ken Dykhoff shared with the congregation on Sunday morning at Jonesboro Main Street Wesleyan Church as they gathered for their final worship service before merging with Gas City Eastview Wesleyan Church. A prolonged downturn in attendance and declining financial support at Main Street convinced the members to consider a new path forward.
The leaders at Main Street Wesleyan approached Pastor Mark Atkinson and the Eastview leadership team to explore possibilities. Eastview will welcome the members and Rev. Ken Dykhoff to become part of their ministry in Gas City with the intention to restart ministry in Jonesboro in the future. The final service was well-attended and the highlight of the day was celebrating 4 baptisms! I expressed appreciation from the district for the faithful pastors and lay leaders who served through the 95 years ministry at Main Street.
Baptisms were also the order of the day for at least two other Crossroads District churches on the last Sunday of 2017. Pastor Alan Downing reported that Frankfort First Wesleyan baptized one new believer and welcomed 2 new members. Pastor Steve Colter and the team at Marion Chapel Pike Wesleyan Church baptized 6 new believers and celebrated their partnership with Habitat for Missions that raised $10,000.
We received news last week of the passing of Rev. Dr. Wingrove Taylor, founding General Superintendent of the Caribbean General Conference and beloved holiness evangelist. The funeral service will be held at Trinity Wesleyan Church located at 9709 Allisonville Road, Indianapolis, on Saturday, January 6, at 2p.m. Viewing of the body will be on Friday, January 5, from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. and on Saturday, January 6, from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m., prior to the start of the service.
The ministers of The Wesleyan Church have been invited to serve as an honor guard lining the aisle at the close of the service as the body is moved from the church to the graveside service. All Crossroads District ministers who are able to participate are asked to meet me at the church by 1:30 for further directions.
You are invited to join us as we begin this new year with a Crossroads District prayer gathering led by Dr. Jim Lo at College Wesleyan Church in Marion on Friday, January 12, from 1-3, as we seek God’s face and His favor together for our lives, our families, our churches and our mission field here in Indiana.
Thank you to those who have been praying for Pastor Brad LeRoy and Rev. Lloyd Moore. Pastor Brad was released from the hospital on Friday and Rev. Moore has been able to return to work after his successful transplant. Praise God for answered prayers!
There’s still time to register for the leadership seminar with Karl Vaters in Fort Wayne on January 24 (9 a.m. – 4 p.m.) presented by the Center for Congregations: Small Congregations: Having a Healthy Mindset Karl Vaters is the author of the book The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us. He’s also the founder of NewSmallChurch.com, a ministry that encourages, connects and equips innovative Small Church pastors. (The cost of $30 per person includes the continental breakfast, lunch and a copy of the book Dirt Matters by Jim Powell.)
REGISTER HERE FOR THIS WORKSHOP.
Let’s make 2018 a year to remember as we pursue God’s heart and His calling here in our mission field. We have 3 million reasons. May God help us to never be content while there is even one more we can reach!
Your servant in Christ,
Thank you to every pastor, staff member and volunteer who went the second, and third, and fourth mile to make this Christmas an impactful season of outreach for your church! I’m looking forward to hearing more of the stories of the creative ways that Crossroads District churches reached out to their communities. For example, I attended my first “15 Minute Christmas Eve Service” with Pastor Mark Atkinson and the team at Gas City Eastview Wesleyan Church.
They offer two short but meaningful opportunities for worship, one at 6 p.m. and the second at 6:30 p.m. Both were well attended in spite of the weather. Pastor Mark was praising the Lord with the 20 people who prayed with him on Sunday morning to receive Christ as Lord.
Silver Lake Wesleyan has been undergoing a reset under the leadership of Pastor Duane Seitz. Pastor Duane reports that 40 people attended their Christmas pageant and 6 people responded to the invitation for salvation. Pray as Pastor Duane follows up with these individuals and continues this rebuilding project.
Whether it was a children’s choir or a candlelight communion service, the challenge is to move people from their first experience to full engagement with Christ.
(Here are some follow-up ideas from Outreach Magazine: Six Ways to Follow Up with Christmas Guests)
None of us are content to simply welcome people to events. We are called to engage them in discipleship, from exploration to full devotion. One of the ways I’ve been talking about this lately is with this statement: “Worship that doesn’t move people into discipleship is just entertainment. Discipleship that doesn’t move people into worship is just education.”
Ministry families have to be intentional about finding special moments during the press of the hectic Christmas schedule. It looks like Pastor Randy and Carole Yaryan (pictured above) had a full house with lots of grandchildren in Winchester while Pastor Alan and Grace Gross (pictured below) are in the early stages of family and enjoying their first year of ministry as pastor at Cicero United Family Wesleyan Church.
Sherry and I made a quick trip to Michigan to worship with our children. On Saturday evening, we joined John & Lindsey Gorveatte at Frontline’s South Campus in Byron Center where John serves as campus/teaching pastor.
On Sunday morning, we joined Joel Gorveatte, our youngest son, at Journey Church in Caledonia where he serves as worship and creative arts pastor. One of the highlights of these visits was reconnecting with people we’d known from our family’s involvement in helping those ministries launch while serving as DS in Michigan. It was a blessing to return to worship with our family and to see God at work in these young churches.
Here are two opportunities to help your new year get off to a great start. The first is our district prayer gathering led by Dr. Jim Lo. Join us at College Wesleyan Church in Marion on Friday, January 12, from 1-3, as we seek God together for our lives, our families, our churches and our mission field here in Indiana.
The second opportunity is a leadership seminar with Karl Vaters in Fort Wayne on January 24 (9 a.m. – 4 p.m.) presented by the Center for Congregations: Small Congregations: Having a Healthy Mindset
Karl Vaters is the author of the book The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us. On his blog “Pivot,” he writes about innovative leadership from a small church perspective for ChristianityToday.com. He's also the founder of NewSmallChurch.com, a ministry that encourages, connects and equips innovative Small Church pastors.
In this seminar, you will:
(The cost of $30 per person includes the continental breakfast, lunch and a copy of the book Dirt Matters by Jim Powell.)
REGISTER HERE FOR THIS WORKSHOP.
Pastors, let me encourage you to set aside some time this week to reflect on God’s goodness in the year past and to consider how you might serve Him with greater effectiveness in the year ahead. Here’s a question from Pastor Chris Hodges (Church of the Highlands) to bring focus: “What one thing, if it got better, would make the biggest difference in the effectiveness of our church?”
Our Crossroads District team is available for coaching, consultations (Maximizing Impact) and planning retreats (StratOp) to help our churches find solutions and serve with greater impact going forward. We are stronger together.
Thank you for the privilege of serving alongside you in the only cause that counts for eternity! Keep on making a difference!
Your servant in Christ,
P.S. The district offices are closed in Marion and Fishers this week but I am available to our pastors by phone or email.
P.S.S. – My favorite quote this Christmas is from Peter Larson: “The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked ‘no entrance’ and left through a door marked ‘no exit’.”
Sunday, December 17, I had the privilege of worshiping with Pastors Tom & Sarah Cochran at Expansion Church in Chesterton. They’ve been serving here for the past 18 months and are making progress in focusing the church on missional ministry to this fast growing community in northwest Indiana. I was glad to see Dr. Nathan and Michelle Hoover again. Dr. Hoover was a member of our merging DBA and I appreciate his leadership wisdom. It was also a delight to reconnect with Jennie Lee Riddle and to meet Kaden Slay, from People and Songs, who are leading worship at Expansion Church. Kaden is just releasing his first album that you can find on iTunes: Kaden Slay on iTunes
I love the many creative ways our Crossroads District churches reach out to their communities during the Christmas season. Saturday was a highlight for me as I witnessed more than 200 volunteers at The River Church in Marion serve more than 1100 families from their neighborhood. This event included 4 worship services with special music and a Gospel presentation from Pastor Matthew Trexler. Every family left with a large box containing everything they will need for a great Christmas feast.
Other churches, like Parkview Wesleyan in Chesterfield, take time out to bring joy by singing Christmas carols at retirement homes.
Many others, like Brinker Heights Wesleyan in Marion, feature children in special music or Christmas programs.
Some churches, like Cicero United Wesleyan, even welcome people to wear their ugly Christmas sweaters.
However you do it, don’t miss this wonderful season of opportunity to connect with people who are far from God. Use every available means to reach every possible person with the Good News that our King has come and will soon return!
Last Monday, Rev. Chris Williams and I were in Cincinnati to meet with leaders from Greater Ohio, Indiana South, and the KY-TN Districts for a follow-up conversation about the potential for greater partnership here in the heartland of America. I’ll be bringing an update on these conversations to our district’s 3 regional meetings this spring.
Tuesday, I was met with Pastor Jordan Gardner (Westfield Paradox) and Pastor Tim Witte (Wabash North) for their annual coaching conversations before Sherry and I shared supper with Rev. Jim and Jerolyn Bogear. After their successful ministry in California, Jim and Jerolyn are back in their home area and are serving full-time in their new itinerant ministry (https://www.jimandjerolynbogear.com/) building stronger marriages and teams on the foundation of trust. They are both certified coaches and would be a blessing to your church or leadership team.
Wednesday morning, I attended the funeral for Uriah Wilson, son of Rev. Larry Wilson and grandson of Dr. Norman and Nancy Wilson. Please continue to extend your prayers and support to Uriah’s family and friends. May God grant His comfort and peace.
After the funeral, I met with Pastor John Freed (Waterline Church) at HQ in Fishers for his annual coaching conversation. While at HQ, I also met with Rev. Kimberly Gladden (CMAD), reconnected with Pastor Ervin Webster (St. Stephen Church) and then met with a new local church treasurer that evening for an orientation.
Thursday morning, I met with Pastor Tony Bye (Brookhaven) for our coaching conversation in Marion and then drove to Rochester to meet with Pastor Mike Cloud (The Cross) for our coaching conversation. My last meeting of the day was with Dr. Oliver Dongell at Plymouth Wesleyan before heading home to Upland.
Friday was a chance to catch up on correspondence in my home office before heading north with Sherry to attend the Warsaw Zone Christmas Fellowship. Pastor Jarod and Esther Osborne hosted a fun gathering of area pastors and staff members at Warsaw Wesleyan Church. One exciting update to pass along was Pastor Dale Munsell’s report that Cornerstone Wesleyan welcomed more than 300 for their community Christmas concert featuring the children of their Christian school.
Many of you will have received an email from our office this past week encouraging you to save the date of April 21, 2018 for ReEquip: http://www.reequipconference.org/
We are excited to welcome guest speakers like Rev. Mark Wilson (author of Purple Fish, long-time pastor at Hayward Wesleyan Church, now ministry professor at Southern Wesleyan University) and Matt DePrez (author and Fuller Youth Institute Church Engagement Specialist on the power of intergenerational ministry: https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/author/matthew-deprez).
Please make every effort to bring your team to this leadership event which will replace the seminars we did at last year’s district conference. We really are stronger together!
Your servant in Christ,